• Freemotion AD200 and AD200B zero reset (or calibration procedure) and using it in Zwift

    Note: If you're looking for the FreeMotion AD200 or AD200B calibration (zero reset) procedures, skip to the bottom.

    I was looking at an inexpensive "whole family" bike for Zwift. Something that would be accurate, easily adjustable and would accommodate anyone hopping on and riding within seconds. I knew several people in my family would use Zwift if they didn't have to swap bikes back and forth and do a ton of setup before riding. This was even more important for my 8yr old and 10yr old kids who wouldn't be able to do a lot of that setup themselves.

    The smart bikes like the Wahoo KICKR bike, Stages SB20, Tacx Neo Bike Smart and Wattbike Atom are all great options, but their prices are prohibitive, especially if you are trying it out to see if people would really use it. I explored using a normal spin bike (like the Sunny), but people use speed and cadence sensors to estimate power in Zwift. The problem with this is that spin bikes are fixed gears, your speed is always going to be a 1:1 direct ratio to your cadence, whereas how hard you are working is 100% dependent on how much resistance you apply to the flywheel, not your cadence. Power estimations based on speed and cadence will be wildy inaccurate, for example someone with no resistance on the flywheel would show the same speed (and thus the same power) as someone with resistance cranked down, if they were to hold the same RPM.

    That said, a spin bike with a power meter though is a spectacular option. It won't give you the resistance changes that Zwift feeds a smart trainer or smart bike, but it's dead accurate and it's more intuitive than people realize and checks all the boxes for affordability and family accessibility. Zwift does an amazing job of reading your watts, along with your weight and height and other factors, and adjusting your speed in the game accordingly. Even though you aren't feeling hills on the pedals, you are feeling hills in your mind as your avatar slows down significantly at the base of a hill, just like in real life. Instinctively you often increase resistance to try and stay on top of it, just like in real life, or what a smart trainer would do for you. Riding a spin bike with a power meter in Zwift is like riding a smart bike at 0% Trainer Difficulty, you are still going the same speed in relation to your watts, Zwift is just doing the shifting to accommodate your RPM. It's like driving an automatic vs having a manual transmission. Initially I thought a bike without smart resistance would just whip through Zwift at a static speed, ignoring rises and dips, but that's not the case, Zwift sets your speed according to your watts, the amount of incline and your personal info. Anyway, I'm getting into the weeds, read more about that on Zwift Insider if you want.

    So then what are your options? Outfitting your spin bike with a crank power meter is an option. The only power meters (I know of) for spin bikes, the Stages 971-0100, 971-0101, 971-0102 and 971-0103 are ISIS splined 170mm cranks. You can sometimes find them on ebay for a song. Some spin bikes, like certain Scwhinns, have ISIS cranks. Power pedals are an option as well, although more expensive and puts some obstacles into multi-person use since they are cleated pedals. An obvious easy choice is the Stages line of spin bikes, specifically the SC1, SC2 and SC3. These bikes are used by spin studios and are very rugged. Only the Stages SC3 comes with a power meter, although the others can be outfitted with one. The problem is they hold their value VERY well, a used bike can still be over $1500, and that's often for the lower model without the power meter. At that point you should probably consider a smart bike.

    Enter the Freemotion line of spin bikes. The FreeMotion bikes used to be prevalent in gyms and spin clubs before Stages took over the scene. It's a little known secret that back then FreeMotion and Stages were both manufactured by Foundation Fitness. From my understanding FreeMotion changed ownership and went their separate way, kind of became the red-headed stepchild, Stages took over and much of the history was lost.

    But here's the kicker, because the history was lost, you can pick up these bikes on Craigslist, with their industry respected ant+ power meter and rugged durability, for dirt cheap. I found one for $200 and routinely see the entire setup for $400 or less. So what should you look for on Craigslist? Freemotion s11.6, 11.7, s11.8 and s11.9. I guess there is an s12.1, but I've never seen it. Or just search for spin bike or exercise bike and see if someone has no idea what they have. Become familiar with the design and look of the Stages and FreeMotion bikes, someone may just list it as a $200 spin bike.

    Because the FreeMotion line was made by the same manufacturer as Stages, many of the parts are interchangeable. This includes the ISIS splined power meter, the console (you don't need it for Zwift), parts such as the Road handlebar, the tablet holder, the seat posts and adjustments, etc. The frame design and shape are pretty much the same. But because the history was lost, there is almost no information online about them, especially the ant+ AD200 and AD200B power meter (Part # 310447). Everything I've found I've had to find people in the company that knew the history, or were willing to dig. I can say that the people I've talked to have been awesome and have gone out of their way to help me. For example, the calibration (zero reset) procedure was sent to me on a scanned piece of paper. As far as I can tell it's not online or in any manual. That's really the true purpose of this article, to convey that info here so it's not lost to history forever.

    So without further ado, if you have a FreeMotion AD200 or AD200B power meter, here are the procedures to do a zero reset, or calibration. This should be done every month or so, and especially if you ever remove the crank. It will keep your numbers consistent from session to session and bike to bike.

    1. Activate the console by pressing The STAGE button to go to WARM UP.
    2. Hold both BACKLIGHT and AVG/END for 5 seconds to go to the SETTINGS menu.
    3. To Select ZERO RESET, press and hold the BACKLIGHT and AVG/END buttons again for another 5 seconds. ZERO RESET will appear on the message banner.
    4. Turn the cranks 5 or 6 revolutions to make sure they are awake.
    5. Stop the cranks with the left (power meter side) down in the 6 o'clock position.
    6. Quickly crank the resistance all the way down so the cranks are locked in place (you have to do this so the cranks won't move)
    7. Insert a paper clip into the small pairing hole on the power meter (you should feel a click) and press (and release) the STAGE button while still holding the button down with the paper clip
    8. Keep holding the paper clip button until the console shows SUCCESS
    9. Once you see SUCCESS, release the paper clip button. You're done!
    10. If it fails, repeat procedure a few times.

    Enjoy your Zwifting!